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Harvey S. Keh

How 2013 can be another banner year for President Noynoy Aquino

January 1, 2013 4:14pm

The past year has been a banner year for the administration of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III. This marked the first time that the highest magistrate of the land was removed from his position through an impeachment process. According to Aquino, the removal of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona would now lead toward drastic and genuine reforms in our tainted judicial system.  
 
Aside from this, a formal peace agreement was signed between our government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) after several failed attempts to do so in the past. This agreement will hopefully pave the way for lasting development in Mindanao. 
 
At the end of the year, two landmark legislations were passed, the Sin Tax Bill which would enable our government to raise enough money to improve our public health system, and the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill that will ensure our youth and women get educated on health and family planning. The RH Bill aims not only to curb our population growth but more importantly, help reduce the number of women who die every year due to complications arising from childbirth. 
 
The year 2013 will be challenging for the Aquino administration’s “Matuwid na Daan” but as long as our President continues to show political will in ensuring that key reforms and laws are passed, then he can rest assured that he will continue to have very high ratings for the rest of his term in office. 
 
Here are some wishes that the Aquino administration may want to consider for this new year:
 
1. Right to know, Right now: Pass the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill 
 
Staying true to his campaign promises, President Aquino used his political capital to ensure that the RH Bill would be made into law this past year. Another piece of legislation that he promised to pass during his term in office is the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill that is authored by his close ally in the ruling Liberal Party, Rep. Erin Tañada of Quezon. 
 
The FOI Bill when passed can serve as a major deterrent against graft and corruption since this will now give power to ordinary Filipinos to demand from our government leaders information on how public funds are spent. Being a known champion and advocate of good governance, President Aquino will hopefully also make the passage of this bill a priority in the first half of the year. 
 
2. Clean and honest 2013 elections: Stop jueteng and all forms of illegal gambling
 
A crucial juncture in the Aquino administration will be the 2013 mid-term local and national elections. Given the current rivalry between Aquino’s Liberal Party (LP) and Vice-President Jejomar Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), it would be best for LP to ensure that it wins majority of the seats in the Senate and the House of Representatives. The last thing that President Aquino would want is that he would end up being a lame duck if and when LP loses control of both houses of Congress. 
 
In order for this to happen, DILG Sec. Mar Roxas, the President of LP, and newly-appointed Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Allan Purisima should work doubly hard to ensure that jueteng and other illegal gambling operations all over the country are stopped immediately. Money coming from these are often used by corrupt politicians to buy votes, hire goons to harass voters, and bribe election officials. If the President is serious about enforcing good governance up to the local level then it has to ensure that his candidates will win and the only way to do that is to at least create a level playing field come election time. As long as jueteng operations exist, there will never be clean, fair and honest elections in our country.
 
3. Inclusive growth for our country: More jobs for the poor
 
My good friend Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima should be commended for helping lead the way toward the continued upgrading of our country’s investment status. This has helped create a perception within the international business community that our country is now open for business. Sadly, much of the investments that have come in are not enough to generate the jobs needed to help more Filipino families rise from poverty. The main culprit? High cost of electricity (highest in Asia) and high cost of labor that has stunted the growth of our manufacturing industry.
 
Unless we are able to help our manufacturing industry and other labor intensive businesses grow, the economic progress and growth that our present administration has been trumpeting will only be felt by a few. Currently, many Filipinos continue to leave their families behind to seek better job opportunities abroad. We all know that this has had a negative social effect as we have seen a rise in the number of broken families as well as juvenile delinquency.

Hopefully, this year, our government will be able to find lasting solutions to the impending energy crisis in Mindanao while also finding a way to bring down the price of electricity in our country. If and when this happens, then we will be able to attract more manufacturers to set up their factories in our country that will lead to more jobs for Filipinos. 
 
Comments are welcome at harveykeh@gmail.com
Follow me at Twitter: twitter.com/harveykeh
 
Harvey S. Keh is Director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo de Manila University-School of Government. He is also the Lead Convenor of the Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership.




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